Walking Frame and Rollator Guide
When walking any kind of distance becomes a challenge, a walking frame can give stability and independence. It will allow you to rest frequently and take the pressure off your feet as you move about.
Where once you might have been limited to a standard wide and cumbersome walking frame, today you can find one that suits your particular purposes and that has been designed with practicality in mind. With models that vary in width, height-adjustability, wheel number, seat options, brake type, material and transportability, you can find a walking frame that meets your individual needs.
The most popular use for standard walking frames is to give support around the home. They are designed to be manoeuvrable (typically made of aluminium) and safe (rubber grips on the feet) to help you go about your daily life.
Do I need wheels? For some people, lifting and moving the frame forward can be challenging and a frame with wheels in the place of the front feet may be more appropriate. You may be able to achieve a faster walking pace with this assistance, but do bear in mind that the wheels are fixed so you will still need to lift the frame to turn corners.
Can I travel with it? If you need to take your frame out and about, you may wish to consider a side-folding or hinged-leg model; these easily fold down sufficiently to fit in a car boot.
A rollator is a three- or four-wheeled walking frame that is typically better equipped for outdoor use. They are sturdier and more robust than non-wheeled frames, easy to manoeuvre on more challenging surfaces, and often feature accessories useful to an outdoor journey – a shopping basket, seat and brakes, for example.
Do I need three wheels or four? While the three-wheel rollator is usually a lighter, more transportable, option, a four-wheeler offers a greater level of stability, usually features a seat and can be used on paired channel ramps.
What are the safety considerations? Your safety is paramount and to feel comfortable walking away from the home you will need to have confidence in your rollator. The first consideration is the brake design: working in a way similar to bicycle brakes, loop brakes are very popular and they have a handbrake function; however, if you have arthritic or painful hands, pressure brakes may be more suitable. Is there a handbrake to keep the rollator stationary when you are using the seat? And is the seat strong and supportive enough? Are the wheels of a suitable size for the terrain you will be covering?
What about comfort? Selecting the correct handlebar height is important, but so too is checking that there is sufficient room for you to step forward without hitting the wheel or frames. You should also check the seat height enables you to assume a comfortable ‘perching’ position, a little higher than you would be in an armchair. Consider, too, the type of handgrip: ergonomic handgrips can provide further relief, spreading pressure across the palm.
Are they exclusively suited to outdoor use? Not at all: rollators can be just as useful in the home, especially with optional accessories such as trays.
WE LOVE: The nitro rollator (pictured) has been a popular choice with our customers as it is so lightweight and easy to manoeuvre.
How do I choose the right size?
With most frames being adjustable within a height bracket and several sizes available, it is very much a case of the frame fitting the user rather than the user stooping to fit the frame. The height measurement is that of the handgrips and not the frame itself. To take this measurement:
- Make sure you are wearing your regular shoes;
- Stand upright with your arms at your side, bending your elbows slightly;
- Measure the height of your wrist bone from the floor.
The width is also relevant:
- Stand with your legs a comfortable and natural distance apart and measure the width across your feet;
- Measure the width of your doorframes and aim to have 2” either side to allow easy manoeuvring through your home.
10 factors to consider when choosing a walking frame
- Safety: are the safety features easy to use?
- Height: is it the correct size to give me stability?
- Width: is it wide enough for my gait and narrow enough for my doorways?
- Weight: will I be able to lift it with ease?
- Strength: is it sufficient to support my weight?
- Manoeuvrability: does the frame weight and number of wheels allow me to do what I need?
- Ergonomics: does it allow comfortable, confident walking?
- Accessories: does it feature seat/basket/lamp/walking stick holder, etc.?
- Transportability: does it easily fold down?
- Suitability: does it meet my mobility needs?